Thursday 30th of March 2017

Reduced Health Alert for Traveling Families

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

Last Revised: 6/24/03


Update, June 24, 2003 WHO has removed China from the list of areas where local transmission of SARS is occuring. CCAA has resumed issueing referrals and travel permissions. While the risk of infection is reduced, there is still a small risk of infection from people who may be infected but not having any symptoms. Face masks and gloves are not suggested but frequent hand-washing is still a good idea. Check the latest CDC recommendations for Adoption Travel before travel for the latest information.

Update, May 18, 2003 CCAA has suspended issuing referrals and travel permissions until further SARS in brought under control in China. Check the CDC recommendations for Adoption Travel and other pages in that site for the latest information. The World Health Organization site will have the current statistics for all countries.

Update, May 6, 2003 The CDC recommendations for Adoption Travel hav just been updated and are on the CDC website. According to news reports some agencies are delaying travel to China. There are some difficulties with official offices in China being closed and also difficulty finding guides. However, some agencies are still proceeding with travel at this time. Families close to travel should be in touch with their agency for the latest information.

Update, April 21, 2003 The CDC recommendations for Adoption Travel remain in force and should be followed exactly by traveling families. At this time, travel to China for adoptions is continuing. The Chinese government has had a shakeup over the SARS epidemic and has taken some measures to limit the disease. People who become sick with a respiratory illness while in China can expect to be quarentined in a Chinese hospital. In China, monitors have been reported to be appearing in train & bus stations, and airports and are reported to be pulling people sick with respiratory illness out of travel and sending them to hospitals.

Update, April 5, 2003 The CDC special web page for families traveling for international adoptions has been updated and expanded. It now includes specific suggestions for supplies to take and ways to reduce your risks while traveling. I strongly suggest that all traveling families strictly follow these instructions. In addition, families should schedule travel to avoid staying in Hong Kong and to minimize the time spent in China, especially Guangdong Province. Changing planes in Hong Kong is currently thought to be acceptable.

Update, April 1, 2003 The US CDC has now put up a special web page for families traveling for international adoption. Be sure to check this page for the very latest information. Other information still appears to be current.

Update, March 26, 2003 The main information is still correct, two other candidate pathogens have emerged and research continues to determine which (if any) of these viruses actually causes SARS. At this time, the main information is still correct. Due to the increased level of concern, we suggest that you schedule travel to minimize the time spent in China and avoid Hong Kong if at all possible. The latest reports in the press suggest that the disease may be more widespread in China than previously reported. If you feel sick at the start of your travel do not leave your home country. You will be unlikely to return as airlines may not allow you on the plane if you show symptoms of a respiratory disease.

Update, March 23, 2003 The information below is still accurate. Preliminary evidence suggests that the disease is a viral disease, probably a member of the paramyxovirus family. Since current anti-viral drugs are not known to be effective against this virus, isolation of patients is extremely important to block the spread of this disease. If traveling in Hong Kong or China, try to minimize your exposure to people with obvious colds or flu-like diseases.

March 17, 2003

The United States Centers for Disease Control has issued an immediate alert for travelers to the U.S. from Hong Kong, Guangdong Province, and Hanoi. A severe and dangerous lung disease has been observed in these areas and in a few people who have traveled in these areas. The disease is called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (abbreviated SARS). At this time, the cause of the disease has not yet been identified. The disease is not highly contagious, cases appear to have been restricted to hospital workers caring for patients and immediate family members of the patients.

Who is at risk?

The CDC has asked for information about patients with specific symptoms (see below) and who have traveled to Hong Kong, Guangdong Province, or Hanoi after February 1, 2003. People who traveled before Feb 1, 2003 are no longer thought to be at increased risk. All U.S. adoptive parents travel to Guangzhou in Guangdong Province for processing at the U.S. Consulate.

What symptoms are seen?

At this time, SARS is defined by the following:

  • Fever of more than 100.4 degrees Farenheit (38° C)
  • AND any of the following:
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Hypoxia
  • X-ray indication of pneumonia
  • Respiratory distress
  • AND
  • the patient has traveled to Hong Kong or Guangdong Province after Feb 1, 2003
  • OR has had close contact with a known SARS patient.

What should we do if we are sick like this and have traveled to China recently?

You should notify your physician immediately and ask them to contact the CDC at once. Due to the ability of this disease to spread to family members and health workers caring for patients, there are specific quarentine steps that should be taken at once. Check the CDC SARS page for more information.

How serious is this disease?

This is a serious health risk, there have been reports of deaths due to this disease. However, there have not been enough confirmed cases to provide reliable statistics. If you or a family member are sick and and fit the symptoms described above and have returned from China within the past two weeks, contact your physician immediately.

What should we do if we recently returned from China?

At this time, simply keep alert for the symptoms mentioned above. You should have received a Health Alert Notice card on arrival into the U.S., if not, the text is on the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/travel_alert.htm. It is currently thought that if you have been healthy for more than two weeks after returning from Hong Kong or China, you are unlikely to be infected with SARS.

What should we do if we are going to travel to China soon?

This is a difficult question, as we have only very preliminary information about this disease. First you should check the CDC Travel Alerts website for their latest recommendations. At this time, the disease appears to require prolonged contact to spread. There is no information at this time to suggest that it can be spread in buses, trains, or similar public situations. Routine travel for the purposes of an adoption is not thought to be associated with an increased risk of SARS. The only specific suggestion that can be made is to avoid hospitals in China, especially in Guangdong province, or Hong Kong, if at all possible.

Where can we get more information?

The CDC website has a press release and an item in their travel alerts section. These two have very much the same information. The main CDC page for SARS information has links to additional information for health care providers. An alternate source of information can be found on the World Health Organization website. This FCC page will be updated as significant additional information becomes available.

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